Many primary schools in rural Gansu do not have access to clean tap water for drinking. In some areas, they drink rain water straight from storage cisterns under the schoolyard. On November 6, three RISE members travelled to Gansu to work with Wennuan Shuibei in local rural primary schools and improve access to cleaner water through the promotion of biosand filters (BSFs).
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With the support of the China Environmental Protection Foundation, we sent three RISE members and a number of local volunteers to two separate primary schools. We successfully built BSFs in Wankou Primary School near Huining and Gongjing Primary School near Yuzhong.
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The biosand filter is a simple, cheap and effective small-scale adaptation of the traditional slow sand filter that contains layers of sand and gravel. Our local partner Wennuan Shuibei was tasked with organising the plastic buckets and pipes required to build the BSFs. The local schools were responsible for organising the stones and gravel.
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During our time at the schools, Wennuan Shuibei also organised volunteers to teach students about how to drink water in a healthy way and gave out quality drinking cups to the students and water heaters to the schools. A short time after our trip, the school said they were very happy the BSF.
The volunteers put in a lot of hard work during the activity: sieving sand, washing it with freezing cold water, washing stones and also experiencing life in a relatively poor rural area. But we were happy to do it because it meant we could help improve the schoolâ€™s water quality, increase access to safer water and promote the BSF in an underdeveloped area where it was very much needed.